This time of year leaves many of us feeling as if we may just crawl over the finish line, just.
There’s nothing worse than feeling drained. Some of us may make things worse by reaching for a strong coffee, unbalanced energy bar or a drink, but this is only a short-term fix as the effects soon wear off. Like myself, you likely would like energy that lasts all day, not just for an hour.
What you eat or drink can influence how energetic you feel. Be careful of the typical dieter’s cycle of eating too little that inevitably leads to eating too much.
If your energy engine is running on fumes, try the following energy boosting strategies for some high-octane juice to help you make it through the last few weeks of 2013.
1. Eat light
Overeating can do more harm to your energy levels than you may realize. Ever wonder why you feel tired after a big meal? It floods the blood with sugar, temporarily giving you a lift of energy, but the ensuing surge of insulin (the hormone that carries sugar to the cells) can pull too much sugar from the blood. The result is a feeling of lethargy. Keep your snacks to 500 kilojoules (120 calories) and meals to 1200-1800 kilojoules (350 calories). Reading food labels when you have the opportunity will help you become a calorie guru.
2. Eat strategically
Eating small meals and snacks throughout the day maintains your energy level better than eating one or two large meals, even if they provide the same total calorie intake. Eating frequently creates a steadier level of sugar in the blood with less pronounced peaks and valleys. Of course what you choose to eat is important as fast food doesn’t equal fast energy. Grabbing high fat, high sugar, refined foods made with low quality ingredients will increase your waistline, but not your energy levels. Most take away type meals are unbalanced as they lack adequate vegetables. In the category of Things Your Mother Was Right About All Along, you really and truly should eat your vegetables. Including at least one cup or fistful of salad or vegetables at most meals will help provide energy boosting nutrients.
3. Rethink your drink
Avoid drinking your kilojoules. Drinking kilojoules like the kind found in sugared cold drinks, fruit juices, flavoured coffees, iced teas, even flavoured waters and alcohol is the last thing you need when you’re trying to lose weight and increase energy. Caffeine and alcohol may feel as if they are giving you a quick “pick-me-up”, but in fact they can trigger fatigue by playing havoc with your blood sugar levels. Drink enough water as one of the first signs of dehydration is flagging energy levels!
4. Take a breath
If all else fails, breathe! Sometimes the smallest things come with the biggest benefits. Breathing deeply is one of them. Breathing deeply relieves muscle tension, anxiety and general stress. Deep breathing delivers more oxygen to your bloodstream and brain, helping every function from metabolism to memory function better. HOW TO BREATHE DEEPLY: Breathe in through your nostrils and fill your belly with air, hold your breath for a few seconds and then gently exhale. Try the 4-7-8 technique. Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat as often as needed.
If these strategies don’t work and you’re consistently fatigued or rundown, consult your doctor. Sometimes fatigue is a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as hypothyroidism or anemia.
Celynn is a registered dietitian and although still occasionally consulting as a private practicing dietician, today she is regarded as a full time professional speaker and writer. Celynn is a regular media columnist, founder and developer of the WELLCULATORTM and has published a BESTSELLER book with Tafelberg entitled Fast Food For Sustained Energy. Celynn speaks enhancing your performance by managing fatigue and boosting energy levels. As a professional speaker, Celynn energizes local as well as international audiences and runs workshops in the UK. She is also a Yorkshire terrier, mosaic art and trail runner enthusiast!
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